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House Passes Career & Technical Education Bill

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, June 22, 2017

This afternoon the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) with broad bipartisan support.  The bill is an updated version of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provided federal funding and support for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs on the state and local level. The Perkins bill has unfortunately been left unauthorized for over a decade. As we look at a rapidly approaching gap in our skilled workforce, reinvestment in programs that provide training and education is more important than ever. Last Congressional Session, the House passed a similar bill but the Senate failed to take the issue up. IMA-NA supports the passage of H.R. 2353 and the federal commitment to multiple pathways to education. The bipartisan H.R. 2353 focuses on investment in future generations of the US workforce in four main ways: 

  • Empowers state and local community leaders by simplifying the application process for receiving federal funds and providing more flexibility to use federal resources to respond to changing education and economic needs.
  • Improves alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.
  • Increases transparency and accountability by streamlining performance measures to ensure CTE programs deliver results, empowering parents, students, and stakeholders with a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs.
  • Ensures a limited federal role by reining in the Secretary of Education’s authority, limiting federal intervention, and preventing political favoritism.

 

 Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) issued the following statements upon passage of H.R. 2353 this afternoon:


“Far too many Americans have difficulty accessing the education and skills needed to build a promising career and successful future," Rep. Thompson said. "Jobs are going unfilled as employers face a shortage of skilled workers. Stronger career and technical education programs are exactly what this country needs to prepare our workers for the demands of a 21st century economy and meet the needs of employers. Today, we have handed a win to the American worker. This bipartisan bill puts America on the right path to closing the skills gap and sets our workers up for a future of success.”

“All education is career education," Chairwoman Foxx said. "Our nation’s career and technical education programs prepare many Americans to enter the workforce with the skills they need to succeed, and help close our nation’s skills gap. This bipartisan bill opens the door for more innovation in workforce development with the help of community leaders, educational institutions, and private business. We must continue to promote demand-driven workforce development that aligns education with the needs of employers who are anxious to hire American workers.”

To read the bill click here

To read a fact sheet on H.R. 2353 click here

Tags:  bill  committee on education and workforce  education  House  legislation  perkins reauthorization  Senate 

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Senate Committee Advances Four More Presidential Nominees

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Today the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources convened to consider advancing four more nominees for roles in the Administration. The four nominees up for consideration by the Committee were: David Bernhardt to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Dan Brouillette to be Deputy Secretary of Energy, and Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to be Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As has been reported on extensively, the Administration has hundreds of positions to fill within its various departments and agencies. Unfortunately, until these positions are filled federal agencies remain largely incapable of acting on their mission areas due to being understaffed. FERC stands out, as IMA-NA has noted, as an agency in dire need of staffing; however most of the Departments are equally hamstrung without appointed Deputy Secretaries. Chairwoman Murkowski herself is, reportedly, displeased with the pace of confirmation votes, as these nominees increased the number cleared through the Committee during this session to 6. 

Fortunately, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources moved the four nominees one step closer to confirmation by reporting all of them out of Committee favorably. Only David Bernhardt passed through the Committee without strong bipartisan votes. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) were the only non-Republicans to approve Bernhardt's nomination leading to a vote count of 14-9. Democrats on the Committee withheld support based on his recent career as a lobbyist, working on behalf of energy and mining firms, including oil and gas companies. Environmentalists raised concerns that Bernhardt could use a position as Deputy Secretary of the Interior to enrich his former clients. 

IMA-NA is pleased to see the Senate moving the confirmation process forward and commend the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for approving four qualified nominees for positions of great importance to our federal government. 

Tags:  appointee  confirmation  Congress  department of interior  FERC  legislation  nominee  Senate 

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Senate Confirms Alex Acosta for Secretary of Labor

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, April 28, 2017

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Alex Acosta to be the Secretary of Labor by a vote of 60-38. The vote garnered support from 9 Democrats, marking a strong difference from the partisan nature of many of the other Cabinet confirmation votes. With the confirmation of Alex Acosta settled, there remains only one more Cabinet-level nominee awaiting a vote from the full Senate, President Trump's pick for trade representative, Robert E. Lighthizer. The Trump Administration still has hundreds of important positions to fill within the agencies, but Acosta's confirmation will hopefully create some more clarity on what leadership for OSHA and MSHA will look like.  

President Trump nominated Alex Acosta for the role of Secretary of Labor after his initial nominee Andy Puzder withdrew from consideration after considerable opposition from labor groups and consumer advocates. Acosta served on the National Labor Relations Board from 2002-2003 in addition to working as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.  Secretary Acosta's past experiences stand him in good stead to understand and manage the portfolio of outstanding and future labor issues. 

Tags:  administration  confirmation  labor  Secretary of Labor  senate 

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Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on US Dependence on Foreign Minerals

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing “To Examine the United States’ Increasing Dependence on Foreign Sources of Minerals and Opportunities to Rebuild and Improve the Supply Chain in the United States”. The Hearing featured testimony from a variety of experts who were able to provide insight into both the importance of cultivating a domestic supply chain for minerals and the current impediments to investment in mining in the United States. The list of witnesses was as follows:

·       Dr. Murray Hitzman, Associate Director, Energy and Minerals, The U.S. Geological Survey (testimony)

·       Mr. Alf Barrios, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto Aluminum (testimony)

·       Dr. Chris Hinde, Director of Reports, Metals and Mining, S&P Global Market Intelligence (testimony)

·       Mr. Randy MacGillivray, Vice President, Project Development, Ucore Rare Metals, Inc. (testimony)

·       Vice Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff, USN (Retired), President and Chief Executive Officer, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) (testimony)

·       Dr. Roderick G. Eggert, Viola Vestal Coulter Foundation Chair in Mineral Economics Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines (testimony)

 

Chairwoman Murkowski (R-AK) continues to be a champion for mineral development and investment in the United States. Her opening statement as well as her questions demonstrated her knowledge of the role minerals play in the global and domestic economy and the reliance every sector has on accessible and affordable minerals. In addition to the predictably supportive Republican Senators, the Democrat Senators in attendance all also appeared to understand the importance of the mining industry and the responsible development of domestic resources. During the Q&A portion of the hearing the Senators asked questions on a variety of issues that impact IMA-NA members. Please see the synopses below on questions of particular interest.

 

·       Permitting: Multiple Senators asked for insight on how the permitting process impacts US development of mineral resources. The consistent message from the panel was that the permitting process in the United States needs takes substantially longer than Canada and Australia, two countries with comparable standards, and that the process can be improved by eliminating duplicative components, syncing up different agencies’ requirements to work on things simultaneously, setting actualized deadlines, and providing certainty in the long term requirements.

·       CERCLA: Senator Lee (R-UT) asked whether CERCLA 108(b) would have a negative impact on the mining industry. Mr. Barrios answered that the rule would disincentivize investment in new mining projects in the United States. Additionally, Barrios noted that the bonding requirements are duplicative as companies already carry bonding under other programs to cover the clean up of contaminated sites.

·       Education: The Committee had questions related to both the education of the general public, Congress, and the Administration about the industry and the state of the mining engineering pipeline at mining schools. These questions reflect conversations IMA-NA members and staff continue on the best way to increase awareness of our industry in a positive light. In addition, the focus on encouraging the next generation of mining professionals also mirrors current IMA-NA outreach and program development.

·       Minerals Science: Senator Murkowski took some time to comment on her belief in funding the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to provide the US with the most complete information possible on the resources available. She specifically focused on the need to create a complete map of the minerals of United States, as only 1/3 of the country is currently mapped.

·       Transportation: Senator Stabenow (D-MI) asked a question about the role access to reasonable transportation for mined products has in promoting domestic production of minerals. The panel all related that transportation costs made up a large part of operating budgets and certainly could negatively impact domestic production.

·       Soda Ash: Senator Barrasso (R-WY) asked a question about how minerals, such as Soda Ash, can remain competitive in a global market when US producers face both higher transportation costs and regulatory burdens, and are not subsidized in the way China subsidizes mining. Dr. Hitzman highlighted the importance of reliable transportation infrastructure, favorable tax codes, and consistent interpretation of laws and regulations.

 

The hearing gave a good indication of how the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee views the role of the mining industry in our economy and our national defense. Chairwoman Murkowski acknowledged plans to reintroduce her legislation S. 883, American Mineral Security Act of 2015, from last session as a way to further raise the importance of minerals to our national and economic well-being. Overall, the hearing provided the industry the opportunity to highlight the challenges of operating in the United States as well as the positive contributions the industry makes to society. 

To read Chairwoman Murkowski's opening statement click here.

To watch the recording of the hearing click here. 

Tags:  Barrasso  CERCLA  Congress  Energy and Natural Resources  ENR  hearing  industrial minerals industry  legislation  Legislators  minerals science  Murkowski  Senate  soda ash  usgs 

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Cabinet Confirmations Move Forward - Mulvaney & Pruitt

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, February 17, 2017

Yesterday, Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC5) was sworn in as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Senate confirmed Mulvaney by a narrow margin of 51-49, largely along party lines.  Senator John McCain was the only Republican to vote against the confirmation, a decision that was made due to Mulvaney's past opposition to budget increases for the military.  Under the leadership of a fiscal hawk, OMB will play an important role in the Trump Administration's plans to rein in overly burdensome regulations.  The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), in OMB, which conducts reviews proposed regulations and evaluates the economic impacts, is expected to fulfill its role as a check on regulatory overreach more effectively in the new Administration. The confirmation of Mick Mulvaney also allows for OMB to begin reviewing agency budget proposals, a process that has been on hold while there was not a Director in place.

The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) largely along party lines with a final vote of 52-46.  Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke with the Democratic Party and voted for Pruitt while Susan Collins of Maine voted against his confirmation.  Pruitt's confirmation is seen as a coup for the Administration and Republican Party who criticized the EPA loudly for regulatory overreach under the Obama Administration.  Pruitt has a long history of legal challenges to various EPA regulations and his confirmation has been opposed by environmentalists who view him as an enemy to the stated goals of the EPA.  For industry, Pruitt's confirmation is another signal that the regulatory environment in the United States will become substantially friendlier to business and traditional industrial developments. 

As Congress continues using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to revoke various regulations from the last year of Obama's Administration these two confirmations will be shaping the new Administration's regulatory agenda in its new direction.

Tags:  administration  cabinet  confirmation  EPA  Mulvaney  OMB  Pruitt  Regulations  Senate  Trump 

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Ryan Zinke's Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Interior Scheduled for This Afternoon

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, January 17, 2017

At 2:15 EST, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will convene to hold the confirmation hearing for Donald Drumpf's nominee for Secretary of Interior, Representative Ryan Zinke (MT-AL). As IMA-NA noted on both the blog and the First Friday call, Ryan Zinke was an unexpected choice for the role of Secretary of Interior, given that he is the first term Congressman from Montana. Despite his relative inexperience governing, Rep. Zinke's confirmation is anticipated to proceed without controversy or impediment. IMA-NA is looking forward to learning more about Rep. Zinke's approach to leading the Department of Interior as his confirmation process moves along.

To watch the Committee's live webcast of the hearing click here. 

To read Rep. Zinke's confirmation questionnaire click here. 

Tags:  appointee  department of interior  hearing  nominee  ryan zinke  Senate  Trump 

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Perkins Reauthorization Passes House

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This afternoon the House of Representatives passed the Perkins reauthorization, HR 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, with broad bipartisan support. The Perkins bill has not been reauthorized in over a decade and is an important federal investment in career and technical education across the United States.  In the current political environment or severe partisanship, it is important to note that HR 5587 passed out of the Education and Workforce Committee unanimously and today passed in the House by a vote of 405-5 (with 22 no votes). IMA-NA has worked with a broad coalition of industry and other stakeholders in support of the Perkins reauthorization and is pleased to note the continued bipartisan support for this measure. Indications seem to be that the bill will move through markup in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee next week, with the vote likely happening when Congress returns in December.

To read more about HR 5587 click here

Tags:  House  legislation  perkins reauthorization  Senate  training  workforce development 

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Senate Passes Energy Policy Modernization Act

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

This morning the Senate passed Senator Murkowski's Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012) by a vote of 85-12.  The bill grew out of a bipartisan effort in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and addresses a wide array of energy issues including: energy efficiency standards, electric grid infrastructure, across the board energy development, and resource management funding. IMA-NA supported the bill, specifically Subtitle D. which was comprised entirely of Senator Murkowski's American Mineral Security Act of 2015 (S. 883).  Passage of S. 2012 is impressive for the scope of the issues addressed by the legislation but for the mining industry it is a step towards greater recognition of the important role minerals play in our economy and energy development.  Subtitle D. pushes for greater funding for USGS and their minerals sciences, specifically with the goal of mapping and forecasting our resources in the United States. The Senate vote this morning on a comprehensive energy bill is the first success since 2007 and the inclusion of minerals and minerals sciences is an important step forward. 

To read the bill click here. 

Tags:  energy  industrial minerals industry  legislation  minerals science  msic  Senate  USGS 

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Capitol Hill Briefing Today on Critical Minerals & Materials

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, March 3, 2016

As part of IMA-NA's role on the steering committee of the Minerals Science Information Coalition (MSIC), we are sponsoring both a Senate and House Briefing entitled: Underpinning Innovation: The Science and Supply of America’s Critical Minerals and Materials.  The primary goal of MSIC is to increase awareness and funding of the USGS programs and research.  USGS's research and mapping of resources is the primary source of information related to mineral stores not just for the United States, but for the world. In support MSIC's long term goals,  IMA-NA and the Coalition have supported legislation offered by Senator Murkowski this session to increase funding to USGS in order to develop a system to categorize critical minerals and work towards forecasting tools. The Briefings this afternoon begin on the House side and aim to further support USGS as well as highlight the importance of a strong supply chain of minerals. Speakers include: Lawrence D. Meinert, Program Coordinator, Mineral Resources Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Steven M. Fortier, Director, National Minerals Information Center, U.S. Geological Survey, and Rod Eggert, Professor, Colorado School of Mines, and Deputy Director, Critical Materials Institute, Ames Laboratory.   

Please see the attached flier for more information or contact Ariel Hill-Davis to find out more about the work of the Minerals Science Information Coalition. 

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  briefing  education  House  legislation  minerals science  msic  outreach  Senate 

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Proposed Budgets Pass in Both House and Senate

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, March 27, 2015

This week, both the House and the Senate passed their respective budgets for FY 2016.  Following the House's narrow passage of their proposed budget on Wednesday, the Senate also managed to pass a proposed budget in the early hours of Friday morning. The final vote of 52-46 happened shortly before 3:30 in the morning following hours of votes on the numerous amendments offered.  The "vote-a-rama", as it is being called, included over 40 amendments largely aimed at forcing each party to vote on issues with political capital.

Although each House passed budget proposals, the real test will be whether the chambers can agree on a final budget prior to the April 15th deadline.  It has been over 5 years since Congress has managed to agree on a final budget and it remains to be seen whether the GOP can deliver a package the different segments of the party will support. In the coming weeks, the GOP will attempt to deliver on at least part of the campaign promises which gave them control of both the House and the Senate.

For more details on the Senate budget package click here

For more details on the House budget package click here.

Tags:  budget  Congress  House  politics  Senate 

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